Drakan Vangorich was the 12th Grand Master of Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum in M32. A major player during the War of the Beast, he later oversaw a violent coup against the Imperium in an event known as The Beheading, ruling mankind for the next hundred years.
War of the Beast
During the War of the Beast, Vangorich was warned of the Ork threat early on by Inquisitorial Representative Wienand[2a]. Vangorich was known for his tense relationship with the Lord High Admiral Lansung, although in truth he held all the High Lords in contempt, save for amicable relationships with Wienand and Lord Commander Militant Heth[2b]. During the war, Vangorich dispatched the former Assassin Esad Wire on an unknown mission seemingly targeting the Inquisition.[2c] However this was just his warning to the Inquisition to stop spying on him, and Vangorich's next move was to shapeshift into a Priest and infiltrate the Ecclesiarchal Palace where he poisoned Ecclesiarch Mesring. Vangorich told the Ecclesiarch that he only had 3 days to live, and if he wanted the antidote in that time he would immediately declare a War of Faith against The Beast to force Lansung to redeploy his forces against the Greenskins.[3a]
Later, Vangorich began training Wire for a mission to assassinate Lansung[3c], while also dispatching a task force under the Vanus Temple operative Clementina Yendl to infiltrate Mars and discover what the Adeptus Mechanicus was hiding regarding the Orks.[3a] When Inquisitorial Representative Wienand finds herself under threat from rival Lord Inquisitor Veritus, Vangorich dispatched Wire to rescue her.
Vangorich next sought to contain Veritus and limit his damage to the Senatorum, while using Beast Krule to foil an assassination attempt on himself by the Inquisitorial Representative. Vangorich continued to be disgusted by the High Lords, condemning Juskina Tull's Proletarian Crusade as madness. Following the disastrous crusade, Vangorich helped orchestrate the meeting between the High Lords and an Ork "ambassador". Vangorich, like the rest of the High Lords, proved speechless when the Ork ambassador demanded the surrender of humanity. During the subsequent Eldar raid on the Imperial Palace, Drakan Vangorich and Veritus proved the only High Lords capable of action and the two entered into a reluctant alliance. The duo managed to stop the execution of Shadowseer Lhaerial Rey in order to interrogate her for the motive of the incident. Afterwards, Vangorich was able to negotiate a truce between Wienand and Veritus before quietly expressing his displeasure with the High Lords to the last surviving Imperial Fist, Koorland.
Vangorich later aided Koorland in overthrowing the Lord Commander of the Imperium Udin Macht Udo, approving of the Fists sole survivor taking the position himself. He expressed anger to himself when Koorland and later Vulkan did not purge the High Lords. Later when Koorland executed the now-deranged Mesring, Vangorich smiled.
In the aftermath of the death of Mesring, Vangorich regained his seat on the High Twelve. However following the death of Koorland, the spot of Lord Commander of the Imperium also remained open. Vangorich now became a political creature, believing it was his duty to promote both a strong Lord Commander and puppet Ecclesiarch. To this end, Vangorich poisoned the popular Cardinal Abriel Creutzfeldt after he felt he had confided too much weakness to him. Vangorich next allied with the new Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists, Maximus Thane, in organizing a new offensive on Ullanor. Vangorich was able to secure support for the campaign from Lord Commander Militant Verreault and Lord High Admiral Lansung through intimidation by placing Callidus Assassins into the ranks of their own bodyguards.
As Thane campaigned on Ullanor, Vangorich decided that the High Lords were too incompetent and represented a danger to the survival of humanity.
While Lord Commander of the Imperium Maximus Thane and the newly rechristened Imperial Fists swept away the last of The Beast's Orks Vangorich was left to oversee the ineffectual High Lords of Terra as Lord Protector. Vangorich was initially going to simply coerce the High Lords into working effectively as he had tried with Mesring. However when Vangorich learned that Fabricator-General Kubik had secretly teleporated the Ork capital of Ullanor instead of enacting Exterminatus as Thane had demanded in order to plunder their technology, Vangorich snapped. He realized that the High Lords would never put aside their personal ambition to protect Humanity. Faced with this depressing truth, Vangorich committed himself to destroying the High Lords and placing himself as ruler of the Imperium.
Vangorich struck swiftly, eliminating all of the High Lords save Wienand in a single day. It is implied that he spared Wienand out of genuine romantic feelings for her. In a subsequent meeting of the lesser members of the Senatorum Imperialis Vangorich used lies and excuses to explain the absence of many of the High Lords while using impersonators to replace others. Few were moved by his excuses, but were too afraid to speak out and he easily created his own puppet cabinet of High Lords. The only opposition came from Esad Wire, who tried to kill his former master. However Wire was bested in single cabinet and converted into an Eversor Assassin.
Vangorich ruled the Imperium for the next 100 years as a tyrant, but an effective one. Terra was refortified, the fourth Founding of Space Marines was successful, and the armies of the Imperium rebuilt. The last vestiges of The Beasts hordes were swept aside. However after about 80 years of rule Vangorich began to become unstable. Unnecessary massacres, bizarre behavior, and random purges began to break out. Wienand, still working with Vangorich, knew the time for his fall was at hand. At the same time, Thane, still on Crusade, came to the same conclusion and made his move on Terra.
After securing the Imperial Palace Wienand revealed that Vangorich was inside the Eversor Temple in the north pole. In the subsequent battle for the temple, 400 Space Marines from the Imperial Fists, Halo Brethren, and Sable Swords were assailed by 100 Eversor Assassins. By the end of the melee only three remained: Vangorich, Thane, and a single Eversor. Vangorich bid his goodbyes to Thane before ordering the Eversor to finish the Chapter Master, but the assassin stayed his hand. The Eversor was Esad Wire, who somehow had overcome his programming. This distraction gave Thane enough time to raise his Bolt Pistol. Vangorich asked if they would like to know the story of how Konrad Curze died before being shot dead by Thane. Of Esad Wire, there was no sign.
- 1: Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition Rulebook, pg. 124
- 2: I Am Slaughter (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- 3: Predator, Prey (Novel)
- 4: The Emperor Expects (Novel) Chapter 18
- 5: The Last Wall (Novel) Chapter 18
- 6: Throneworld (Novel) Chapter 16
- 7: Echoes of the Long War (Novel) Chapter 18
- 8: The Hunt for Vulkan (Novel) Epilogue
- 9: The Last Son of Dorn (Novel) - Chapter 3
- 10: The Beheading (Novel) Chapters 9-17